Grade 4 - Swadhaa - a Steiner (Waldorf) School, Pune

Swadha - A Steiner School

Grade 4

How resistant we often are to change – yet how often life asks of us to change, to let go of the security of the past even without being sure about what the future may hold. In the development of the child, there comes a time which Rudolf Steiner describes thus:

"During this same time – roughly between the ninth and the tenth years – another very important transition occurs in the child’s life. Individually, this change can vary; in some children it doesn’t happen until after the tenth year. Each child instinctively, unconsciously faces a kind of riddle for life. This change of direction from within outward, this new awareness of being a self surrounded by an external world – whereas previously these two aspects were woven together – is something the child does not experience consciously, but through inner doubts and restlessness which make themselves felt at that time…The appeal for help is not directly expressed by questions, but in characteristic for of behavior".

Sometimes the children begin to show signs of change in grade three; but more often in grade four on account of their age-range from 9-10. The transition from early childhood is complete, the transition towards puberty has not yet begun. The intensification of self-consciousness, which began during the ninth year, continues into Class 4. Each child appears as a strong personality with distinctive gifts, talents, and challenges but this is still essentially in its child-like manifestation. Physiologically, the self activity of the child strives to bring about a harmonisation of the breathing to the blood circulation. At this age, rhythmical memory is at its strongest. The aim of Grade 4 is first and foremost to channel positively the powerful energy which 10 year olds bring to the classroom. At the latest by Class 4 the children enter into a psychological situation that differs from that of the preceding three years. The ‘loss of paradise’ which is a common theme in nearly every mythology or folk memory, is increasingly felt by each individual child, calling for more individualised centering outwards to the environment. The world of which they are a part’ now becomes ‘the world that is around them’. They grow to a new reality of the world that is more differentiated and diverse. Teachers who have worked with the curriculum content of grade four are often left speechless by its sheer depth in reaching out to the child, who must now let go of a familiar phase of childhood in order to embrace the new…at a deeply unconscious level of growth. The Nordic stories with the shock of the twilight of the Gods, fractions, tenses, animal life, local geography, cross stitch, weaving forms, alliterative poetry, part singing – what could better describe the word ‘complete’?

English

The Norse myths that we will study in fourth grade are filled with laughter — raucous laughter, hilarious laughter, and sometimes derisive laughter. With their powerful wills, their contentious natures and their love of adventure, the Norse gods serve as a remarkably accurate reflection of the fourth graders who study them. Underlying these extroverted tales, however, is a hint of pathos and tragedy, for the Norse gods know that, in spite of their power and beauty, they are doomed to be overcome by the giants and trolls who wait in their subterranean lairs. The Norse mythology stories remain unmatched in their humour as well as intensity making a powerful impact on children of this age. The shock that children experience with the death of the Nordic Gods remains unmatched. In a way the ninth year crisis is also indicative of the death of a certain consciousness for the new to be born. Hence the stories seem to offer soul strength to the children to go through the Rubicon. The year is interspersed with other stories that include Indian Gods and Goddesses, local history, and animal life.

  • Speech
    Working with alliterative poetry and stepping in rhythm to it.
      – Working with a play where children begin to take up individual roles.
  • Grammar
      – Begin work with tenses
      – Continue work with Parts of Speech.
      – A more conscious work with Punctuation.
  • Writing and Reading
      – Recounting and writing what has been heard verbally in the various main lessons.
      – Work with spellings that are non-phonetic, guessing pronunciation and spellings of new words.

Hindi

Children will be told stories of Mahabharat – the good and the bad characteristics that co-exist in each character from the mythology.

Marathi

Children will learn the local History and Geography in Marathi.

Mathematics

From the whole to the parts way of working from grade one, gets a new dimension in grade four. Fourth graders develop a passion for patterns and codes. When the psychological harmony in children is broken, working with Fractions (broken numbers) meets not just their cerebral layers of understanding numbers, but shows them a mirror of themselves. What is broken cannot be made sense of without the grasp of the whole. When a child grasps the fact that the greater the denominator, the smaller the fraction, we are witnessing an important step in the child’s incarnation process. Fractions represent the threshold that divides “arithmetic” from “mathematics”; for the first time, the class will be working with numbers in a form that is conceptual as well as experiential.

  • Further work with mental Math.
  • Further work with written sums involving the four processes in several place values.
  • Introduction to fractions.
  • Four operations in fractions.

Local Geography

In third grade, the children awoke to the realities of the world around them in a generalized and dreamy way. The archetypal tasks of farming and house-building, and the activities of measuring and weighing, helped them find their way to the earth. Now, in fourth grade, they are here, and it is time for them to orient themselves in space and time. Teachers working with local geography in class four are often astounded by the impact it has on children – “It literally grounds them”, is what we commonly hear. At the time when they begin to feel their individuality strongly, with the resultant loneliness that may accompany it, how wonderful that our children are given the possibility to develop a sense of belonging to the place they live in. The closeness to the History of the land gives us the possibility of exploring the Pune city, rich in its multicultural heritage left behind by the founding dynasties of the land.

  • Content objectives
    – School and home as the centre’s of the child’s experience and understanding what surrounds it.
    – The fundamentals of mapping understood as a bird’s eye view.
    – Local History and visits.
    – Directions observing the Sun.
    – Understanding the city, moving to the physical features of the state, mapping it and understanding its boundaries.

Animal Life

Now that the 10-year-old begins to distinguish between the “inner self” and the “outer world,” a degree of objectivity arises which makes the study of science meaningful. We begin in fourth grade with the animal world, the closest “kingdom of nature” to the human being. Our focus will be what the animals teach us about being human. Through the study of the world outside of ourselves, we learn much about what lives within us. Few sights are as delightful as watching the wistful eyes of grade three gazing at the fourth graders walk around the school with their pets – pets of different sizes, shapes, colours and … noises. To create the right picture of the animal life is certainly not easy – In many ways the challenge of allowing pedagogic ideas to remain as living pictures and not dead thoughts is strongly felt when we work with this block.

  • Content Objectives
    – Understanding the shape and form of Animals from the perspective of the shape and form of the Human being.
    – Uprightness of the human form, the human hands and arms as pictures of human freedom.
    – The animal tendency to specialize, the human gift to remain in ‘whole capacity’ and yet achieve what we have achieved in our cultural and technological spheres.
    – Animals that reflect the human soul forces of will, feeling, thinking.
    – A selection of animals under different classifications and families.
    – Environmental influences on animal life.

Hand work

‘A thirsty traveler drinking water from the cool, clear waters of the spring’ – A picture that best describes the fought graders working with cross stitch.

  • Cross stitch leading on to scenes and designs
  • Self designing for bags, book covers, recorder bags or pin cushions.

Form Drawing

  • Weaving knots connected to the Norse stories.
  • Revisiting all the old form drawings with the new awakening of weaving in and out.

Painting

Work with themes chosen from various blocks. The children begin to experience forms arising out of moving colours.

Music

Both with singing and recorders move to working with rounds.

The true measure of success is a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child that is able to deal effectively with life’s challenges.                                                                                                -Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

ART Excel

SriSriRaviShankarChildren are initiated to the ART Excel (All Round Training and excellence) programme, specially founded by Sri Sri Ravishankar of the Art of Living foundation for children in the age group of 8 to 12 years. It is a programme that focusses on life skills and gives way to their best natural potential.

ART Excel students learn:

  • Yoga and breathing processes which help eliminate fear and anxiety
  • Techniques that enhance focus and concentration
  • Simple relaxation techniques and meditative games
  • Skills in friendship, leadership and teamwork

Through fun and laughter, ART Excel students learn valuable lessons in sharing with others, working and playing in harmony and developing a sense of belonging with others. The programme helps children become more self-expressive, comfortable and natural with diverse groups of people.